Realistic Pirate Ships Ahoy! (Part 2 of 2)

How to make a ship that sails on the sea, for your independent film. Good for pirate movies or depicting of olden times.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrg!  Allright shipmate, if you followed Part 1 of our tutorial, you should basically have two videos that we're going to make into one special effects shot, your ship footage and your sea footage:

Capture or download it all to your computer.  You can now use your editing program if it has the capabilities, or your special effects program.  A good special effects program for the advanced video enthusiast would be VisionLab Studio from, but any program will do that has the effects capability to squash videos flat and change the proportions etc.  Adobe Premiere can do it too.   

It may help to look at a video of the sea, and try to obtain that look with your water footage.  What you may have to do first is to manipulate the perspective a bit. 

The reason for the bottom to be wider than the top is to have bigger "waves" in the front and going smaller further away. 

Put your sea over your ship footage, with your sea touching or going past the bottom of the screen:

As you can see the color of the sea doesn't quite match the scene - this was a rather green swimming pool I filmed.  So use your color balance filters to correct the ocean color:

Now create a rectangular mask or a black and white matte and put it over all of your sea - make sure your mask or matte goes well past the edges of the visible screen area. 

The reason for the mask or matte is that a mask can be "feathered" very slightly, or a matte be blurred very slightly.  This is to soften the horizon line of your ocean very slightly so it just blends seamlessly into your scene, instead of having a very harsh line.  

Move your mask or matte and your ocean until they are in the best position in relation to each other and to the scene.  You should have something like this now:


Now you can start fine tuning your scene.  It is best to start by rendering out your scene as it is so that you can see what you have and what more it needs.  Is the speed of your water ok?  Is it too fast to look realistic?  Slow it down and have "frame blending" on.  How about the flags on your ship?  Was there a breeze when you filmed?  You may want to slow down the speed of the ship video too if it needs adjusting. 

Viola!  Is that a ship I see on the horizon?

Notes:  Masks can be used to cut into the sea if you would like to bring your ship closer and not just have it on the horizon.  For that I would recommend you get to know a more specialized program that can do animated masks, like VisionLab Studio or Adobe After Effects.


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